The largest and most dependable pro-Israel group, Christians United for Israel, is going after Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for bottling up a vote on Iran sanctions, which a bipartisan majority in the Senate supports. It sent out an alert to its six-figure strong membership [UPDATE: A CUFI rep says the membership is now 1.6 million] making the case that “if this bill were ever brought for a vote, it would pass the Senate by a wide margin. But one man, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is preventing this bill from ever seeing the light of day. We know that Harry Reid is under enormous pressure from President Obama. But this is no excuse for putting partisan politics before the security of his country and the will of the people.”
After just three hours, the message generated 10,000 calls or e-mails to Reid, according to a CUFI representative. By focusing on just Reid, CUFI is, in my estimation wisely, making the point that this is not Democrat vs. Republican, but White House and Reid vs. a bipartisan coalition.
CUFI executive director David Brog explained to me the reasoning behind the sanctions push: “Not to act is to act. Kicking the sanctions can down the road is simply going to force us to choose between two horribles — a nuclear Iran or war with Iran.” He adds, “Now that our economic pressure is working, we must press our advantage as the only alternative to reinvigorate diplomacy and ensure a deal can be made that doesn’t simply ratify Iran’s nuclear capability.
“We’re supporting it with everything we’ve got for one simple reason — there may not be another chance.”
Brog also argued, “When it came to judicial nominees, he lectured the country at great length about the need for majority rule. But now that we’re debating a fundamental issue of war and peace, he’s blocking the clear will of a large majority without the slightest compunction.”
I don’t believe CUFI is under any illusion that Reid will see the light on either substantive policy grounds or on procedural consistency (perish the thought). But it is incumbent on those advocates who in the weeks and months ahead may be advocating more confrontational measures to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program to make every effort to support lesser, alternative steps first. They can’t help it if the president refuses to take up those measures.
Obama appears so anxious about losing a deal that he winds up conveying panic and, in turn, makes it more unlikely that Iran will dismantle its program. That makes it more likely we will either have a ludicrous deal that acknowledges Iran’s nuclear status, a war or an openly nuclear-capable Iran. Unless the White House has a prompt change of heart, there will be a distasteful menu of options for which the president and Reid would be entirely responsible.